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IBM Software Group

Business Analytics

The right architecture
for business intelligence
The foundation for effective enterprise BI

Cognos Enterprise

reinvent and adjust. • Investing in analytics is considered a priority for many organizations. This white paper outlines the customer requirements that industry experts feel must be part of an effective and flexible enterprise BI architecture. Which platforms provide the best foundation for positive business outcomes? What kind of architecture best lends itself to accessible analysis. and ultimately gain competitive advantage. ultimately. For IT. to connect with key stakeholders and to share insight. a solution that can change how organizations make decisions. The business expects BI software to provide data in many different formats. It lets you tap into information within your organization and beyond. And it describes the open. responses to impromptu queries. accelerates business decisions and provides competitive advantage by ensuring that an organization’s investment can be used today and also be ready for tomorrow. enterprise-class platform of IBM® Cognos® Enterprise. IBM’s 2010 CFO study (involving more than 1. In addition. BI software must suit the many roles. The right architecture paves the way for the success of the system and. • • • An open platform simplifies IT environments. An open platform based on architecture that is built specifically for analytics and designed for evolving and growing business demands meets the needs of both IT and business users.900 CFOs and senior finance leaders worldwide) showed that analytics-driven organizations had 33 percent more revenue growth and 32 percent more return on capital invested. align and decide. but a big question can be the technology platform. Business analytics is helping many organizations achieve this kind of agility. interconnecting and complex world. New challenges and opportunities require agility: the ability to quickly assess. available in the office and on the go and accessible to all who need to use it. allocate resources.2 The right architecture for business intelligence Overview Why architecture is important In a fast. predict and plan for the future. real-time monitoring and predictive analytics. A software system’s architecture determines its ability to meet business needs now and in the future. intuitive collaboration and actionable insight? For business. scenario modeling. Analytics software brings together business intelligence (BI) capabilities such as reporting. it is no longer enough to decide and act on the basis of limited information or traditional strategic planning cycles. the business wants BI software to be interactive. including regular reports. different skills and changing needs of users. scorecards and dashboards and yet ensure that it is “a single version of the truth” so decisions can be made confidently. . of the organization. BI software delivers more value when it • • • Integrates easily with an organization’s infrastructure Supports today’s technology and standards Adjusts readily to evolving needs Consolidates all data in an organization Scales as user demand grows Performs reliably Provides centralized administration that does not overtax budgets and human resource budgets and human resources Analytics-driven organizations not only seize opportunities: they outperform. analysis and scorecarding with planning.

Manageability IT must be able to administer efficiently to keep the system operating effectively. 3 Cognos Enterprise architecture The Cognos platform underpins Cognos Business Intelligence. When a request is submitted to a Cognos Enterprise installation. Agility If something in an organization changes — such as a new business strategy or a new enterprise application — the BI solution must adapt accordingly. a BI solution must provide a common user interface. for example. portals. can mesh with existing load balancing routers. For organizations with many data assets. Openness BI must be open — in terms of the data that can be accessed and for integration with existing and new applications. delivering all BI capabilities on three distinct tiers: • A presentation tier that handles all user interaction in the web environment • An application tier with services to handle all BI processing • A data tier that provides access to a wide range of data sources. and offer all and be accessible on a range of technology. as must making changes to the way information is deployed. Scalability Enterprise BI deployments must scale linearly to thousands and tens of thousands of users in global organization. Data modelers must be able to create an effective business model quickly and readily modify it as the needs of business change over time. BI is central to the business. These requirements are fundamental to business intelligence systems that will be deployed broadly throughout the organization. the right processing happens at the right level and in an optimal way to serve the broad range of business users. ensuring that as requests come in they are distributed appropriately.Business Analytics Attributes of an effective enterprise-scale BI architecture Analyst findings and IBM’s experience with Fortune 1000 organizations point to several common characteristics and values of enterprise-scale BI architecture. Processing on the presentation tier. The separation of the architectural components into tiers supports the secure deployment strategies required by large organizations whose data and infrastructure are secured and closely guarded by firewalls. Deployability Deploying the BI system — actually getting information to users in whatever format needed — must be a simple activity. application servers and more. Administrators should also be able to identify and avoid potential problems. it’s critical that a BI solution deliver a common view of the business — so managers and other workers do not have to worry about the validity of their numbers when compared to other people’s numbers. applications and users. IT must be able to enable more or less functionality to fit the needs of different users. . Usability Seamless interoperability Common business view To reach the broadest possible audience. security providers. It must be searchable so that users can capitalize on BI information that the organization has already created. and the quality of the data must be maintained to ensure user confidence. databases and OLAP data sources. security systems and more. including mobile devices. dashboards or reports. Security A BI solution must work with existing security solutions — often more than one — to ensure that access to both the BI system and the information in that system is always secured as required. Use existing infrastructure A BI solution must work in existing environments and exploit everything those environments have to offer: web infrastructure. A BI system must operate 24x7 with redundancy for all capabilities and services. There must be a single interface for all BI capabilities that can be used to navigate through scorecards. recognize and accommodate different types of users. The single view must be based on all the data. All of these qualities are delivered largely through the underlying architecture. Reliability For most organizations.

modern architecture. add groups and users and grant privileges to secured business intelligence content. BI authors and BI administrators can use their webbased workspaces or desktop dashboards to read reports. Administrators can manage and tune servers. For large organizations. In addition. queue prioritization and resubmission features help ensure that IT can keep their BI system functioning optimally. . there are no applets to download and no plug-ins to install or maintain. IT does not have to install and manage client desktop software. BI users. to create ad hoc queries and analyze data.4 The right architecture for business intelligence The Cognos platform is built with web services to deliver BI from a single extensible and flexible platform. which helps improve the productivity of many types of users in your organization — from report authors to business managers and your front line. which reduces the administrative burden on IT. The administration of Cognos Enterprise is also browserbased. this means administration can be distributed so local or regional administrators can handle updates for users and roles while others manage overall security centrally. role-based capabilities. thereby minimizing deployment and maintenance costs. The Cognos administration interface provides IT with views of BI system activity so they can manage the system proactively. The presentation tier The Cognos platform provides all BI capabilities in a web browser-based user interface and makes other capabilities available in a self-service. Instead. Cognos consumer modes use the Cognos platform to provide business users access to missioncritical BI on mobile devices and in familiar software applications such as Microsoft Office. standalone desktop interface. simple web gestures build and access a broad range of BI content. Intuitive. which are often geographically dispersed. Figure 1: IBM Cognos Enterprise: all BI capabilities on a common Unlike many other BI tools. at-a-glance metrics.

You can also access the API with WSDL. it must fit in a framework of existing business applications. Integrating business intelligence with existing applications Although analytics has become truly strategic in many organizations. Routers Mesh cleanly with in-place load balancing mechanisms for optimal use of hardware resources. and any programming language that understands SOAP can use it.Business Analytics Infrastructure components Cognos Business Intelligence benefit Web server Use any popular Web server including Microsoft IIS.Net framework. including BEA WebLogic. Application server Exploit the power of in-place application servers. In fact. the Cognos platform was built to integrate with portal environments that comply with the Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) standard. The Cognos platform fits into these environments with lightweight web gateways that forward incoming requests from the web browser to the application tier. the Cognos platform provides a significant level of openness. 5 . Reducing costs by using existing web infrastructure Almost every organization has a web infrastructure. Portals Integrate with widely used portal environments such as IBM WebSphere. The Cognos Software Development Kit (SDK) exposes the same web services API used to build Cognos Enterprise. As a result. With a fully open and documented application programming interface (API). SAP NetWeaver and BEA Plumtree. Microsoft SharePoint. SAP NetWeaver Application Server or Oracle Application Server. C++ and others. You can integrate most BI capabilities into your existing system and choose from widely used programming languages such as Java. organizations can integrate the Cognos platform into their enterprise portals — today and in the future. The BI content in a Cognos platform configuration can be integrated with Java-based JSP applications or in the Microsoft . IBM HTTP server or Apache. IBM WebSphere® family. and Cognos Enterprise must fit with that infrastructure. By working in whatever web environment is currently in place — and thereby using existing skills and assets — the Cognos platform helps reduce the effort and costs associated with getting an enterprise solution up and running.

As a result. Each dispatcher in a distributed system is self-registering. Regardless of what kind of request is made —  a simple report run. requests are dispatched with load balancing built into the system. configurable load balancing The application tier is the mission control center of the Cognos platform. to display a dashboard. servers can be dedicated to specific groups or users. . In the Cognos platform. SAP NetWeaver Application Server and Oracle Application Server. it will automatically have twice as many requests dispatched to it. self-starting servers When you are configuring an enterprise-scale system. Additionally. every server in a Cognos configuration can be tuned to adjust specific performance parameters such as the number of active request threads for any given service. Peer-to-peer services for reliability and scalability The services offered by the Cognos platform are the backbone of the system. The dispatcher is a multithreaded application that runs on whatever web application server or servlet container an organization is using. When you install the Cognos platform on a server. or from the group or user role of the individual submitting the request. The capacity definition for any given server is completely flexible — if one server has twice the “power” of another in terms of memory and processing speed. timeouts and the level of auditing applied to any given BI activity. the dispatcher simply registers itself in that configuration. It also provides a single set of standard-based services — such as a common query engine. IBM WebSphere Application Server. These include Apache. they are automatically routed to servers based on defined server capacity and the request’s “affinity” level. In the Cognos platform. incoming requests should automatically go to the appropriate server for best throughput. the optimal routing of requests in the application tier is the job of the dispatcher. auditing and presentation. For this to happen. Requests to run a report. starts the services on that server and lets the configuration know what services are available. As requests come in. you must make sure that it can maintain the best possible level of service. to burst a scheduled report to a wide number of users and more should be answered with optimal performance. Enterprise-scale BI systems must be able to handle the high volumes of incoming user requests typical in large organizations. which the dispatcher uses to decide whether the request should go to a specific server or to any server in the configuration. This affinity can be derived from the actual nature of the request. It manages all incoming interactive and batch requests and automatically distributes them for optimal impact.6 The right architecture for business intelligence The application tier Intelligent. Self-registering. scheduling. This vastly simplifies the installation and configuration of Cognos Enterprise and it enables the system to scale even if it is installed on multiple servers. an analytical comparison across business dimensions or the scheduled running of a business intelligence agent that detects key data events — the system must provide services smoothly. BEA WebLogic. monitoring.

on any machine can handle any incoming request. The services are also scalable.” As a result. This means each request typically handles a significant block of work. The result is fault tolerance and service redundancy — any request can be routed to and handled by any server in the system. Presentation is handled by a presentation service.Business Analytics Every service in the Cognos platform application tier operates on a peer-to-peer basis. High performance. the query engine will use defined metadata and generate underlying queries that return consistent results. is fundamental to a successful enterprise BI solution. it’s a simple matter to dedicate a specific server in a Cognos Enterprise configuration to report execution by disabling the other services on that particular server. If a solution has no common understanding of the data and uses multiple authoring models — for example. Dynamic query provides in-memory processing capabilities with 64-bit system support to address these challenges. Services communicate with one another with common messaging that uses open web standards: HTTP. Any service. and intra-service communications is optional. It also means linear performance characteristics. The intra-service communication is coarsegrained in nature. so administrators can add servers and enable or disable services based on demand. thereby avoiding service interruptions. one access mechanism for production reporting. If any server in a configuration fails. incoming requests are automatically routed to redundant servers. Users can therefore have confidence that the numbers in their reports will match those from other departments. All the communication between the services in the Cognos platform configuration takes place on the BI Bus — which means that all services plug into a “network. This means that no service needs to know any of the details about what any other service does or is doing at any given point in time. SOAP. BI Bus The open API for integrating the Cognos platform into other systems is used by all of the components and services. and data is handled by the query service. ensuring security in the application tier. . unlike other SOAs that use a services “hub. XML and WSDL. services are transparent in terms of location. a second access mechanism for multidimensional reporting and possibly a third for ad hoc query capabilities — then the very real possibility exists for inconsistencies in these various BI activities. This capability brings optimized query generation with pattern intelligence and security-aware in addition to providing the foundation for further extension such as dynamic cubes.” The nature of these services is such that there is complete separation of elements that should not be tightly bound. Regardless of whether a user is accessing a relational data warehouse or a multidimensional data cube. For example. 7 Single authoring model and common metadata for consistent results Having a single authoring model based on common metadata. Additionally. based on the built-in business rules in metadata and in defined security. regardless of where or how that data is stored. intra-service calls can be encrypted. The Cognos platform uses a single authoring model for both relational and dimensional data source that is based on common metadata. such as presentation and data. in-memory caching with dynamic query Organizations are challenged with meeting performance expectations because of complex business requirements and growing data volumes.

And a sophisticated caching strategy uses metadata. this technology provides you with administration tools to manage environment variables and observe system metrics on a granular level. so the content can remain relevant. so do performance challenges. Query routing is automated. so that authors and analysts can simply benefit from enhanced performance without worrying about whether their query will hit the right database tables. where different types of data are brought together in a structured relational schema. UNIX. At a departmental level. Most organizations have both relational data and multidimensional data. an extension of dynamic query. you can use your existing infrastructure and install the Cognos platform on Microsoft Windows. expressions and result sets to optimize performance. Another key element of the Cognos platform is environment independence. Users expect very rapid responses. They might already have significant investments in metadata. individual data points. in-memory caching further accelerates performance. Linux or IBM z/OS®. The data tier Large organizations typically have multiple data sources. there might be a huge proliferation of data sources that makes the delivery of business intelligence on an enterprise scale difficult. along with scheduling options and full SDK openness to automate management tasks such as cache priming or cache refreshes. . Platform independence for flexibility High-performance analytics over terabytes of warehoused data with dynamic cubes As data volumes grow. If you have multiple operating systems — for example Windows and Linux — you can configure your BI system for a heterogeneous environment. In terms of operating systems.8 The right architecture for business intelligence Dynamic query uses an enhanced Java-based interface that addresses query complexity. data volumes and performance with new capabilities: • In-memory calculations and aggregate operations • Smart query processing capable of combining multidimensional and relational concepts to improve performance • 64-bit security-aware smart caching that uses in-memory optimization to increase query performance and data cache reuse and that monitors the most commonly used data and responds accordingly. In-memory aggregates can be created with the Aggregate Advisor and no re-authoring nor re-modeling is required. especially for dimensional interactive analysis. Even organizations that have managed to standardize their data strategy are potentially subject to multiple data sources as soon as they merge with another organization or choose to grow through acquisition. Cache management facilities are available by using existing event scheduling infrastructure to enable the automatic management of the cache. address these performance problems by means of aggregate awareness and extensive in-memory acceleration. Dynamic cubes. As with the rest of the platform. giving IT the tools to build a flexible and optimized application. In addition to aggregate-awareness. Aggregate-awareness enables you to fully capitalize on the investment made in a data warehouse technology.

IT can use Cognos Framework Manager to build data models that span a wide range of data assets and provide a common view of data. attributes and measures. Erwin and XML. virtually all of the dimensional information inherent in that system is brought into Cognos Framework Manager which speeds the journey to metadata-driven BI. As with virtually all critical information assets. with the ability to create new ones. A single metadata model can be built on metadata derived from diverse data sources such as Oracle. maintainable. user and group preferences and key metrics — is in a relational database management system. configuration information. metadata packages. hierarchies. Cognos Enterprise includes a content manager cache service that enhances the overall system performance and Content Manager scalability by caching frequent query results in each dispatcher. It’s important to note that when importing metadata from various sources. the best place to store BI — including reports. Common metadata for a common view of the business The Cognos platform provides a common metadata view. As a result. can then be brought to bear on BI applications. And. backup and recovery and global accessibility. secured BI content The assets managed by a BI application are critical to an organization’s business infrastructure — just as important as the underlying data assets in ERP systems. As with other critical assets that are used to manage the business. . Centralized. Depending on your needs. cardinality. They can also use a single model to send different packages of information to different types of users. dimensions. security. Work with federated views of your multiple data sources. Teams of modelers can work independently on different parts of a model and combine their work. in Derby or in Sybase. Metadata modeling capabilities help IT groups build enterprise-scale metadata models to meet your requirements. which includes performance tuning. redundancy is built into the system. 9 The Cognos platform employs widely used relational databases as the storage mechanism for all BI content. For example. when you import from IBM DB2 Cube Views. All of the value of a relational system. This service can be customized. BI content can be stored in IBM DB2® in Oracle.Business Analytics Many BI systems provide access to some of these sources. In the Cognos platform. in Microsoft SQL Server. all BI content is stored and maintained in one location: the content store. including joins. Microsoft SQL Server. Cognos Framework Manager uses everything it can from the data source in terms of metadata. But IBM offers access to many more of them. with multiple instances of the content store for failover and reliability. as with all BI services in a Cognos platform configuration. in relational databases and in other data sources such as XML streams or web services. you can: • • • Use all of the data sources at your disposal. Capitalize on existing enterprise data warehouses or data marts. a loss of BI content can be very damaging.

The standard cryptographic provider employs SSL and includes trusted communications with digital signing of SOAP-based messages on the BI Bus. LDAP. Reports. • Authorization. where the security of information over the web is a concern. such as reports. in-depth analysis. In the Cognos platform. existing Cognos namespaces or combinations of these where multiple security providers are in play. Netegrity SiteMinder. In many BI environments. Additionally. Windows NTLM.10 The right architecture for business intelligence Multilingual capabilities and UNICODE for global deployments A core design principle of the Cognos platform is global deployability. The Cognos platform uses whatever authentication mechanism or provider is in place. Strong encryption of up to 1610 bits is available from cryptographic providers. to columns or to entire published business intelligence packages. dashboards and scorecards and agents. At runtime. If required. all inter-service communication between services in the application tier can be fully encrypted. The Cognos platform provides cryptographic services that apply to all information. Moreover. The Cognos platform uses a wide range of in-place security assets. analysis. It supports Microsoft Active Directory. An important distinction with the Cognos platform cryptographic services is the “across-the-board” encryption capability. it must be seen only by those authorized to do so. With no coding whatsoever. It can also be applied to folders that contain any combination of these objects. dashboards and scorecards can be delivered in any language or locale from one UNICODE server. the local settings in a user’s browser direct Cognos Enterprise to render results in the appropriate language. regardless of how users in your organization log on to the system. security can be applied to specific objects and capabilities. Use in-place security assets Every BI application of any scale must be secured. starting with secured access in the metadata model to query subjects. • Encryption. using appropriate locale settings for variables such as currency and the formatting of monetary values. to rows. in three critical areas: • Authentication. security can be applied at virtually any level. in the common portal environment. . including transient communications between services and static or temporary data artifacts generated by the system. Regardless of what form the data takes. metadata models can drive multilingual deployments. information must be encrypted to a level that assures the organization that its data assets won’t fall into the wrong hands. Support for global deployments is built into the metadata layer. encryption is a basic requirement.

gain insight. balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. Your organization gains the freedom to see more. to meet SOX reporting requirements and for audits. and audit results can be performance management. go to ibm. giving them the ability to find the right information. In the Cognos platform. Request a call To request a call or to ask a question. They can compare scenarios. enterprise-class IBM Cognos platform provides a strong foundation to easily deploy. that can have a profound effect on business performance. Guided by an open data strategy and backed by an industry leader. share it with others and see the business from any perspective. when and for how long. do more — and make the smart decisions that drive better business . The auditing model and sample associated reports are based on published schema and provided out of the box. organizations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals. To be an effective foundation for analytics. UNIX System Log or Windows Event Viewer. such as customer analytics. anticipate potential threats and opportunities. All logging from all servers can be directed to one location if desired. Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas.Business Analytics Comprehensive auditing Logging is fundamental to many BI applications. For further information please visit ibm. Chargeback requirements often mean you need to know who is hitting what system. Conclusion Analytics support how people think and work. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence. the open. and risk management. budget and forecast resources. the right business intelligence architecture must support this intuitive and effortless interaction with information. use and integrate Cognos Enterprise successfully. Auditing levels are adjustable and can be set or directed to a location of your choice. better plan. comprehensive auditing is provided for all services. predictive analytics and decision management. for example. By making analytics widely available. An IBM representative will respond to your inquiry within two business days. 11 About IBM Business Analytics IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. such as databases.

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